When my daughter Jessie was applying to graduate school, I asked one of my tennis buddies with a PhD from Caltech whether he thought Caltech would give Jessie any preference since there are so few women in physics.
He replied cautiously that his impression was that Caltech had remained pretty steadfastly meritocratic, so she was unlikely to receive a thumb on the scale because of her sex. But, he added, “but she may get some preference because she’s not Chinese.”
Now it appears that the failure to be born in China might actually be an obstacle to admission. This seems so at the flagship University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign. Inside Higher Edreports that this year Illinois recruited “about 600 freshmen (around 10 percent of the class) from China. As recently as 2006, Illinois was enrolling only about 20 new undergraduates from China. This year, Illinois held three orientation sessions for Chinese students while they were still in China.”
One of the most common justifications for “diversity”-based preferences is that the demands of global competition require us to promote “diversity” to prepare us for this intense competition. Perhaps, but what exactly is our interest in preparing competitors like the Chinese to compete with us?
Back in 2006 I discussed one of the seemingly unending reports lamenting the “underrepresentation” of women in science whose press announcement from the National Academies began with the inevitable and “global competition” rationale for what I called Fighting Gender Bias In Science … With Gender Bias In Science:
WASHINGTON — Women face barriers to hiring and promotion in research universities in many fields of science and engineering — a situation that deprives the United States of an important source of talent as the country faces increasingly stiff global competition in higher education, science and technology, and the marketplace, says a new report from the National Academies.
A question I asked then bears repeating: should foreign women who are in this country only temporarily … be counted toward “compliance” with the “goals” recommended by the Academies? Insofar as it is necessary to displace some men to make room for more women, should American males be displaced to make room for foreign females? And why should both American males and females be displaced to make room for our future Chinese competitors?